Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Shine in the Dark: From Light Graffiti and Light Writing to Bachelor Party Installations and Activist LED Signs

Shine in the Dark: From Light Graffiti and Light Writing to Bachelor Party Installations and Activist LED Signs

Compared to the traditional paint-and-stencil graffiti, light graffiti (also known as light art, light writing and light painting), may seem minor to some of you if not entirely esoteric. Yet, this emerging concept, described by the Guardian as a new wave of ephemeral street art, is a most fascinating zeitgeist phenomena. Light graffiti can also be described as an organic, environment-friendly yet non-vandalistic channel for self expression in public. In most cases, no public space is being "liberated" for more than 30 seconds. Here, wall paint is replaced with flash lights and laser pointers, street walls - with megapixels.

Naturally and as expected, where creativity, innovation and buzzy weather meet major companies (and their finest creative teams and branding divisions) can also be found. They are here because their job is to tag along the hype but with their corporate media power they also fuel the trend and make it stronger. The result: a new colorful scale of innovative human expressions such as the following selection of seven light art projects.

1. Lichtfaktor

The German collective Lichtfaktor has been well known for pioneering lightart photography since 2006 after, according to, Marcel Panne - a video mixer with a background in photography - was approached to produce new material for an event themed "Energy in Motion". In the past two years major brands such as Absolut Vodka, Mark Ecko, Audi, Phillips and PlayStation have already paid Panne and his partners David Lüpschen and Tim Fehske to participate in a few innovative print campaigns. The above image, for example, is of a set recently shot in London and Brighton for British TV channel current.

In March this year the first ever Lichtfaktor TV commercial was released and included some of the most high-budget light art images ever created. The commercial was made for the BEKO ALL-STAR brand in Istanbul and includes music by Jingle Jungle. See selected snapshots above or just watch the whole clip here:

2. Illum

Conceived in summer of 2007 Illum is the brainchild of Sean Nelson and Chuck Grimmett - senior high school students from Amherst, Ohio, USA with a strong passion for photography art experimentation. Focusing on long exposures and different kinds of light art, light graffiti and light writing the Illum portfolio includes astonishing nature shots, self-brand signatures such as above, winter images and more.

Nature and Light Art shot


Winter shot

Urban shot

3. The Path of Light

Another creative two-man project started in Aalborg, Denmark in summer 2007 is The Path of Light. Using "the cityscape as a playground and flashlights as toys" Long Shutter and his (unanimous) are officially inspired by the works of Lichtfaktor. With pieces such as Satan's car, Turning on the lights (above) and Thoughts away (below) The Path of Light let their imagination "fill the streets with flowers and creatures" giving life to static environments.

The following is a recent stop-motion clip released by The Path of Light:

4. robokon_gt

Also with his own personal vision for car photography robokon_gt's "Getting chased..." and "The chaser becomes the chased..." (above) are excellent examples of how composition and motion vectors can be used cleverly within this medium. Other sets from this artist such as Gabe vs Gabe! and Feb light graffiti 010 (below) show a sense of humor is also on the checklist.

5. MRI

Ryan Warnberg and Michelle McSwain from Queens Brooklyn, USA turned their light art fascination into a local New York metro area business branded MRI, also known as M::R::I. Other than peculiar brand signatures such as the above ("m r i i n m n") the couple go with the slogan "Long exposures. Bright lights." and make unique kaleidoscopic portraits with original look and their own slightly sexy style. Version and Saint (below) are two excellent examples.

Above: items from the Version set. Below: Saint

If you happen to plan an odd drunken bachelor party or are otherwise interested in your own personal light session you are welcome to pick up your favorite email application and contact Ryan (the weird one) or Michelle (the pretty one). Worried about technical aspects of the production? There’. According to the MRI fellows Cameras, lights, cables and other must have accessories are all included. All you have to bring for a successful light event is yourself and your wildest ideas. See also the MRI Light Painting blog.

6. Luke Doyle

Luck Doyle from Oxford, UK uses acid purple lights to manipulate human figures into glowing super high-res light art photos. The above, titled Light people in bed, is in my humble opinion a true light art masterpiece. Click for image for a higher-resolution version or here for huge super high-res one. Another interesting set by Doyle that utilizes his branded purple is Glowing guitar. Super high-res version here.

7. Graffiti Research Lab: Night Writer

Another emerging method of using light to make your voice heard is using low-power led technology. Graffiti Research Lab, a division of the Eyebeam R&D OpenLab run by a couple of NYC-based artists who like projecting light beams onto buildings, had developed the LED Throwies as an inexpensive way to create a less temporary draw in light.

Consisting of a lithium battery, a 10mm diffused led and a rare-earth magnet taped together, The Throwie's functionality was recently extended by the Night Writer – a cheap easy way to make 12-inch glowing letters setup. With Night Writer letters are placed up on an iron or steel surface forming the coolest low-budget neon-style sign or a shockingly prominent activist electronic billboard - make your own choice. Just two important notes before you consider setting your Night Writer up:

The first one is that according to the GRL folks it's hard to conceal a 10-foot pole.

In addition: please note the NYPD vans are ferromagnetic. The GRL are also a prominent player in the fields of architectural light graffiti and projection bombing - another two forms of lightart utilizing more advanced yet still pretty simple accessories. Here the creation takes the form of realtime or pre-planned sequences of light, feed through high-powered digital projectors and projected on public buildings and walls. Check out WebUrbanist for more architectural graffiti and projection bombing on urban surfaces.


  1. Love the images. This is my kind of thing. Thanks Gil.

  2. I can only agree with donna. I love this kind of light experiments. Cool write-up!

  3. Posted this link in

  4. Whoa!this is brilliant!I am feeding your blog to my aggregator!Keep the great work going!

  5. Michael Bosanko7.7.08

    Hi. Just been doing a search on light graffiti as I indulge in this 'art' quite often. Thought you might be interested in viewing my work at

    Michael Bosanko

  6. Anonymous12.7.08



    pioneer of light graffiti/ light painting

  8. Anonymous24.8.09

    If you like these images then check this video out ----->

  9. just refreshed my gallery with the works of 2009-2010 on


    Tofa | Berlin

  10. Picasso did that years ago...


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